As my good friend Tommy Murray would say, you guys are up to something.
Welcome to the second edition of The Overnight Bus, a chronicling of my introspective bus ride through the Vietnamese night. If you missed my first article which details the specifics of my journey and also discusses the current state of the Steelers and Packers, check that out here.
Now to the article.
I really liked what the Buffalo Bills did this offseason, as well as how they ended their 2018. After starting 2-7, they closed the year out going 4-3 showing strong character and promise for the future. I understand that 6-10 is not a good record and especially after coming off of a season where they made the playoffs, but I think the Bills rebuild is right on course.
The #1 thing to be most excited with the Bills is Josh Allen. As the 7th pick in the 2018 draft, Allen is expected to be a franchise quarterback in Buffalo. In his first season he was inconsistent, but I think we saw plenty of things from him in his rookie campaign make me excited for his future.
The first thing is that the Bills are clearly a better team when he is in the starting lineup. Allen missed 4 games due to injury last year, and the Bills went 1-3 in those games, also losing the contest to the Texans which Allen was injured in. I think Allen plays with a certain grit and effort that is appreciated by the Buffalo community as well as his teammates. This dude hurdled Anthony Barr for a 1st down in an era where most quarterbacks slide or run out of bounds at the sight of any linebacker, let alone a player like Barr.
But there are more reasons to be high on Allen’s potential other than the fact that he’s a high effort player. His deep ball is somewhat inconsistent, but it’s electric and effective enough that it has to be respected by NFL defenses. His 75-yd bomb to Robert Foster against the Jags was one of the most impressive throws I saw all year, and is just a small sample size as to what kind of threat his arm can be.
His biggest issue he needs to fix is his overall accuracy, as he only completed 52% of his passes last year. This was somewhat to be expected though as one of Allen’s biggest issues at Wyoming was his accuracy. In his defense the receiver room wasn’t exactly the best one in the league last year and I would expect improvement in 2019 purely due to some offseason upgrades.
Putting aside Allen, I’m truly most excited about this team due to their draft. In the first round they selected the penetrating defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who will be a welcome addition of juice to the d-line. He’s going to be especially valuable in replacing the hole left by Kyle Williams, the career Bill who retired this offseason. My favorite pick of their draft came next in the second round when the Bills chose Cody Ford, the offensive lineman from Oklahoma.
Ford has versatility to play both guard and tackle but I expect the Bills to try him at tackle to pair with Dion Dawkins. He’s athletic enough to handle the fastest of rushers of the edge, but also has the power to be a mauler at the point of attack in the run game. He will join and re-vamped offensive line in Buffalo that also added Quinton Spain and Mitch Morse in free agency.
Other pick highlights include Devin Singletary in the third round who has drawn comparisons to his new teammate LeSean McCoy, and Vosean Joseph the linebacker from Florida in the 5th. Singletary brings some much needed youth and juice to an old running back group, and Joseph is an athletic backer with blitz ability who can be productive behind a stellar LB tandem with Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds.
With Sean McDermott entering his third year as head coach, I think this team is primed to surprise a lot of people in 2019. I can’t help to feel that there’s a sort of good energy or maybe magic surrounding this team. Some of this for me comes from the unfortunate death of Bills super-fan Pancho Billa in May of this year. Pancho Billa was one of the core pillars of Bills mafia, and will certainly be honored by the Bills this season in some fashion, whether it be a helmet sticker or a moment of silence during their first home game.
With the Patriots having a stranglehold on the AFC East for as long as Belichick and Brady are there, I don’t think they will threaten for a division title. While a playoff appearance may surprise the main-stream media, it wouldn’t surprise me and the #NewWave Back Judge.
Viva Los Bills!